Is the decay constant , constant for all isotopes of element

  • Thread starter CivilSigma
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  • #1
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I have this true and false question:

" The half life and therefore the decay constant will be the same for every isotope
a) True
b) False
c) only if it is an isotope of the same element
"

I think this is false, just by intuition.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Simon Bridge
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But you need more than just intuition... how could you check if all isotopes of the same element have the same decay constant?
For instance - can a stable element have radioactive isotopes?
 
  • #3
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Yes they can, I know there is Tritium , an unstable isotope of the stable element Hydrogen.

To check, we can place two samples in a container and monitor their loss of matter, and it should be equal?
 
  • #4
Simon Bridge
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Very good... so what is the decay constant for hydrogen?
 
  • #5
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I read that Tritium has half life of 13.2 years, where as deuterium has a halflife of 10.3 minutes. Thank you :)
 
  • #6
Simon Bridge
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Even if you didn't know those values, you know that tritium decays and hydrogen does not, so the decay constant for hydrogen (half-life infinity) is not the same as for tritium (half-life finite). This is how you can get needed conclusions from incomplete information.
 
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